How would you feel if you just spent several thousand dollars on a painting, only to find out it’s a forgery? If you had the ability to forge expensive works of art, sneak it past Sotheby’s art experts, and get away with it, would you do it? This is how art forger Ken Perenyi made his living, made tons of money, and got away with it. Hence the title of his book, Caveat Emptor, Latin for “Buyer Beware”.
In his brash, unapologetic tone, Perenyi describes the techniques of art forgery in exquisite detail. He vividly describes the 70’s NY art scene, churning out loads of forged art, and quickly selling them for a fast buck. Most of his success is attributed to being well-connected to influential people in the art world, such as Any Warhol, Roy Cohn and…Mafia mobsters.
I have mixed feelings about the book. Logically, I’m fascinated with his savvy artistic and business skills. Yet, the emotional and moral part of my conscience feels repulsed, knowing that he was never punished for his crimes.
A recurring thought about Perenyi brews in my mind. What could he have created if he painted original art? Since he had the skill to copy famous art, did he even have the ability to create original art? His main motive for painting was to make a living (at other’s expense), not painting because he loved art. Perhaps his only ability was to copy art. We’ll never know. If you’d like to see inside the mind of a criminal, the business of art auction houses and art restoration, you’ll enjoy this book.
Rating: 4 stars